Some say Jakarta is a beautiful city to live in, but a worthless place to visit. It's no coincidence that n some places t-shirts with the print "I have been in Jakarta for two days, and I survived", can be bought. What's wrong with these disappointed tourists? There are little adventurous people who complain about polluted streets, thick smog, speeding, reckless crossing and other small misuses?
I't for sure that living in Jakarta needs patience, sometimes into the absurd, but it also has it's positive sides. Foreigners who work for the multinationals in Jakarta, are surrounded by masses of helpers, and cars with drivers. They shop in Kem Chicks-supermarkets, where you can even buy nasi goreng in microwavable packages. It may seem nothing but the mystical East, for many it's a dream that has come true, nevertheless with some nightmare-elements.
The uneasy things in Jakarta are legendary, but had the come over, since they always have an unexpected side. In poorer of far-flung parts, hardship is common. On the other hand it's possible to wake up in an air-conditioned room, hot shower, to have a breakfast with muesli and yogurt, to watch the news on CNN, and to try to call the neighbor for half an hour after that.
Telephoning and lots of humor, both are unbearable in Jakarta. Trying to make a connection through old telephone lines are a lucky coincident. During the peek hours, all morning, the sound of the dialing tone is rare. Dialing a number has numerous results, but almost never the result you are looking for, Even when you accomplish to get connected, there is a big chance of being interrupted at once. Other people start talking to you with a short and powerful "HELLO".
It's not remarkable that people in Jakarta prefer personal contact, however that can't be done without frustrations all the time. Even walking is a dangerous experience because street vendors, rubble and open sewers block the way. The only alternative, the car, also has it's negative sides. With no chance to talk about the moody weather, the driving problems are an good alternative, most of the time they also know where the problems come from. The government says that there are too many cars, and the people say that the government doesn't built enough new roads.
Probably people of Jakarta have to deal with as many frustrations as the people in other metropolises in the world. Jakarta's mix of sweet and bitter, mirror the many nicknames of the city; 'Big Mango', 'City of Sewers', and taken into account the number of gay's, 'Queen of the East'. Most usable is undoubtedly 'Big Durian', or you like this smelly fruit, or you hate it. And there are only a few people, foreign or not, who are ambivalent against their city.
There also is a good side about Jakarta if you really want to see it though. For those who visit Jakarta for the first time, or just use it to spend the night waiting for their next trip to other places in the archipelago, Jakarta can be a mess, and every once in a while it really is a mess. Luckily there are plenty of things to to without bothering about the 'outside' problems of traffic, pollution and hot air.
What to think of the beautiful malls that Jakarta has to offer? Blok M Plaza is an old one, and if you want to find the really cheap things you have to go outside in the hot air, pollution and crowded streets, but you don't have to if you prefer cool air and somewhat less crowded places. Grand Indonesia is a fairly new place to go. Taman Anggrek Mal is located in the middle of the city, but you won't be bothered but the less rich people, since this mall is somewhat expensive for the average Indonesian.
If you like to enjoy some more quietness, but you prefer outside air, you can go to the old Kota and Sunda Kelapa. However I haven't been there, certain places you feel like being in a quiet city. For another place of interest go to Monas, located on a square of grass, about 1 square km of grass, with wide crowded boulevards around it.
I tell you that there are many quiet places in Jakarta, since I stayed at home in South Jakarta, I also know what suburban neighborhoods have to offer. Quietness and peace that are. Some of the main hotels are located in more quiet area's but most of them can be found in the center of the city, around the most crowded places of Jakarta. With the crowd comes the pollution and of course crime. But that's anywhere in the world, but keep your money with you and be careful you don't slip into an open sewer.